Planet Earth Weekly

Climate Change and Renewable Energy: Saving Our Planet for Future Generations


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We Have Met the Enemy

Are there enough resources for overpopulation?

With climate change will there be enough resources for all?

“We have met the enemy and it is us.”

By Pogo
(Kelley, Poster 1970 Earth Day)

By Dr. John J. Hidore
October 16, 2015—Over the period that humans have been a species on Earth the number of individuals has increased over time. At first it increased very slowly. Gradually the total population increased and is currently increasing at a faster rate than previously recorded. There have been times when disaster struck, which slowed the population growth, or possibly even decreased the total number of people.

Growing Pressure on Earth’s Resources

During the 21st century the earth has added approximately 80 million persons each year. For each additional person added to the total, there must be additional resources of food, fresh water, energy supplies, and material for clothing and shelter. There has been growing pressure on Earth’s resources to support this rapid increase in population. The 2013 report by the Inerter-governmental panel on Climate Change states, “Globally, economic and population growth continue to be the most important drivers of increases in carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels.” The growth of the human population and increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide are not only similar, but follow the same growth pattern.

The key to reducing climate change, global hunger, and poverty is to slow, stop, or reverse population growth. There are means available to slow or even stop the growth. However, there is tremendous pressure to keep the population growing. There are major groups that thrive on population growth and spend huge amounts of money and time to keep it growing.

population

Population growth accelerating.

Organized Religions thrive on Population Growth

Many organized religions contribute to climate change and global poverty. The strength of organized religions is in the size of their adherents. Since their power lies in their numbers they often encourage large families and oppose the use of any kind of family planning including birth control. Population growth could be slowed substantially if it were not for this type of thinking of many organized religions.

The two major religions in terms of membership are Christianity and Islam. There are about 2.1 billion adherents of Christianity. The holy book of Christianity is the Bible which does not address the issue of family planning. Within Christianity there are many different organized churches, the largest being the Catholic Church with approximately 1.2 billion members. The Catholic Church has long considered any kind of birth control to be a sin and this was reiterated by Pope Francis this year. Other Christian churches also support rules against abortion and the use of contraceptives.

There are approximately 1.5 billion followers of Islam. The Islamic holy book is the Quran. Like the Bible, the Quran does not prohibit family planning and does not formally address the issue. Some forms of contraception have been in use in Islamic countries since the origin of Islam. In today’s world the followers of Islam have a wide variety of choices of birth control. In some countries, where Islam is the prevalent religion, contraceptive use among women is a high as 70%. In others it is estimated to be substantial. Islam has strict rules that prohibit sexual relations before marriage. It views sexual relations between husband and wife as an expression of love and is encouraged. However, prohibition of contraception has grown as a means of increasing the followers of Islam. Many other countries or sects are prohibiting contraception for a variety of reasons.

population growth and energy needs

With population growth comes the accelerated need for energy.

Wall Street and Economic Development Thrive on Population Growth

Nations that advocate economic growth do so for reasons of profit. In much of the world today the advocates of increasing profits control the economic policies. In countries such as the United States and other western countries, almost all governmental economic decisions are aimed at increasing the market for goods and increasing profits. The profit motive inevitably overrides the needs of the majority of the human population or the impact on the environment. The end result is often predictable–civil disobedience and popular uprisings!

Much of the global business community has denied climate change and resource scarcity since before the Kyoto conference, and has been a major proponent of population growth in the name of profit. This manifests itself in the form of government opposition to family planning, sponsoring legislation to limit abortion and contraception. It is often counselled by the global business community as a woman’s health issue.

National and tribal interests

In some religions and geographical areas, the use of birth control methods is considered a crime. A case in point is the nation of Iran. This year the government declared the use of contraceptives to be a criminal act. Even in some secular countries there are laws that make abortion a crime of murder even to save the life of the mother or in the case of rape.

Iran is not alone. A number of European countries have become concerned about their declining birthrate. Among them are Denmark, Germany, Greece, and Italy. The populations of these countries, as in many European countries, is aging due to the low birth rates. The number of residents over the age of 65 has nearly doubled the world average and is expected to increase. This has major economic and social impact on these countries. Denmark has now introduced education on having children, as well as not having them.

These group policies are responsible for much of the rapid growth in population. Their self-interest is more important than the welfare of the human population or the condition of the environment. It is time the effect of these policies should be made clear and the policies made subject to re-evaluation. Much of the global population is now under great stress as is the environment.

Each day without action increases the stress and the probability of a global human disaster.

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Recent Global Changes of Note

Heat waves and global warming--i.e. climate change!

With climate changes comes broken temperatures!

The concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is now the highest it has been in the past 800,000 years.

By Dr. John J. Hidore

September 25, 2015—Planet Earth is now in a period of rapid change. A fundamental driving force in many cases is the growth of the human population. From the time of its origin until now the population has been growing faster and faster. It took modern humans some 200,000 years to reach a total of one billion individuals. We have added another billion in less than 15 years since the start of the century. The global population now stands at over 7, 368,000,000. Many of the global changes taking place at this time are a result of human activity. Examples from recent years of the 21st century serve to indicate just how fast it is changing.

Year 2014

There has been an overall increase in global temperatures at least since 1900. Global temperatures for the years 1880 to 1980 were below the mean for the 20th Century. Since 1980 global annual temperatures have been above the mean of the 20th Century. The 10 warmest years have occurred since 1997. The three warmest years since 1880 were 2005, 2010, and 2014, all in this century. 2014 was the warmest year on the earth since records have been kept (136 years). The first seven months of 2015 are the warmest for the period since records have been kept.

Global Greenhouse Gases

Climate Change

Warming of the Arctic

Parts of the arctic region are now the warmest they have been in 44,000 years. The warming is taking place around the North Pole including the Arctic Ocean and the surrounding land masses. Most of the ice shelves in the Canadian Arctic broke away from land during the past 14 years. Every summer for the last ten years the area of sea ice has been below the average of the previous 20 years. On Sept 17, 2014 the area of sea ice in the Arctic reached its lowest in recorded history. The extent of the ice was 1.9 million square miles (1.94 million square kilometers). In mid-September of 2015, the extent of the ice was a little greater than in 2014 but still among the least.

Freshwater melting from Arctic ice sheets is slowing the Gulf Stream. Further slowing of the Gulf Stream could cause a three foot rise in sea level on the east cost of the United States. This is in addition to the rise in sea level due to climate change.

Year 2015

Since the start of the industrial revolution, the burning of organic fuels has released more than 500 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is now the highest it has been in the past 800,000 years. Global CO2 reached 400 parts per million (ppm) for the first time in history. The level has increased 85 ppm in the 55 years, since measurements were first made at Mauna Loa, Hawaii. This represents a 25% increase since 1958. This rate has been increasing more rapidly in the past few decades. This rate of change parallels the growth of the human population and the probability is that it will continue increasing even faster. CO2 stays in the atmosphere for as long as 1000 years!

Antarctica

On March 24, 2015 at Hope Bay, Antarctica, the temperature reached 17.5 OC (63.5o F), the highest ever recorded on the Antarctic continent. This temperature was recorded at the northern end of the Antarctic Peninsula at Argentina’s Esperanza Base, and nearly as high a temperature was recorded the day before.

Rising Temperatures in India

This year a May heat wave in India claimed at least 2,500 lives. Heat waves are fairly frequent in India but this was the greatest loss of life from a heat wave in over 30 years, with extremely high temperatures were reached in cities scattered over the country. Power outages were wide spread as a result of high demand for air conditioning. The city of Khammam recorded the highest temperature ever recorded there at 118.4oF (48o C). Other high temperatures recorded were:
Allahabad 118 F (47.8 C)
Delhi 113 F (45.5 C)
Hyderabad 115 F (46.0 C)
Jharsuguda 113.7 F (45.4 C)

Working toward 100% renewables

Working Toward Renewable Energy

The Pakistan Heat Wave

In June the deadliest heat wave known to have occurred in Pakistan took place in the southern part of the country near Karachi. The death toll is unknown for certain but may have reached more than 1000, and was followed by several weeks the severe heat wave that struck India. The heat wave struck during the month of Ramadan which made the impact of the event more severe than it might have been. Unfortunately, city services were not in condition to cope with the heat.

In the U.S. President Obama has advocated for action on slowing climate change and visited Alaska where global warming is changing the lives of the native people.

Pope Francis’s Warning

On June 18, 2015, Pope Francis issued “Laudato Si,” a plea for the environment, which is a remarkable change from recent heads of the Catholic Church. He stated, “The current climate change is the result of human activity and, to reduce climate change and pollution, we must convert from using fossil fuels to using renewable energy sources.” His message: We all must work together for change!


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Are There Limits to Population Growth?

Sustaining Earth's Growing Population

Is our Earth overpopulated?

Perhaps the earth’s sustainable population is only half the number living on the planet today.

By Dr. John J. Hidore

June 14,2015—The human population has been growing since the origin of the species homo, more than three million years ago. Modern humans developed about 200,000 years ago. The size of the population has increased during this long time span. Although it has not grown at a steady rate, the number of inhabitants of our planet has been rising. In the last century, it has increased at a faster rate than anytime during this span.

Increasing Beyond Available Resources

In 1798, Thomas Robert Malthius, a British economist, wrote about the principle of population growth. He concluded that humans would increase in number beyond the available resources to sustain them, and when this stage was reached the population would begin to decline. Disease, famine and war would reduce the population to a size our planet could support.

The basis of his conclusion? There is a limit to food, and other natural resources that are necessary to sustain the human population. This limit has become known as the carrying capacity. The carrying capacity is the upper limit of a given population which can be sustained without damage to the environment. The ultimate limit to the carrying capacity on our planet depends on photosynthesis. Photosynthesis is the ability of green plants, algae, and bacteria to convert solar energy to living organic matter.

The Need to Limit Growth

In 1968, a Stanford University biologist, Paul Ehrlich, authored a book entitled “The Population Bomb”. He illustrated the dangers of the rapidly growing population. At this time, the Earth’s population was approximately 3.5 billion. In 1972, the results of the first simulation model of the global economic system were published. The study was produced by a Futures group, known as the Club of Rome, formed from world industrial leadership by Aurio Peccei and Alexamder King. The study was titled “Limits to Growth” (Meadows, Meadows, Randers, and Behrens, 1972).

There was global response to this report. By some, it was taken as a projection of doom for the earth, as we know it, by the year 2100. The report showed what the future would hold if we did not interfere with present trends. The study supported the original findings of Malthus.

In spite of many attacks on “Limits to Growth”, the thesis of the book persists. No one can dispel the basic forecast presented. There is too much evidence that the prediction may eventually come true. Coupled with this is a growing, and perhaps fully warranted, fear that the human population is setting in motion forces of a scale of space and time that we can no longer control.

Population and Consumption

Will Earth’s resources support our growing population?

Carrying Capacity of the Earth

Based on this premise, the carrying capacity of Earth has limits for the human species. Studies have indicated that we may have passed the carrying capacity in the late 20th Century. While it is not possible to say exactly when this occurred, one estimate placed it in 1986. What is implied in this conclusion, is that we began consuming more than plant growth can sustain, and so environmental degradation is taking place. This degradation is now almost universal on the planet. It varies in form from place to place and varies in degree, but it is there. One study determined that we are now exceeding the carrying capacity by as much as twenty percent.

There Are No Limits To Growth

There was considerable opposition to the idea of limits to population growth. First and foremost is that the population has grown to over seven billion and continues to grow. A basic criticism of the projection of a limit of growth has been that the studies did not take into consideration the growth of technology. We are no longer dependent on the natural resources for food, clothing and shelter that were available in the past. Human intelligence has been creating new resources that allow the population to grow. Proponents of economic development insist that we will be able to create new resources to support unlimited growth in the future. At the current time, projections are being made for our population to grow between nine and twenty billion. These large numbers are certainly possible but only with increased poverty and need by the majority of these billions. This year, it is estimated that one billion of ou existing population will suffer some stage of malnutrition, and approximately a billion will not have fresh drinking water.

The Options

The important question we need to ask: What quality of life do we want for the majority of the earth’s population, and how much can we alter the natural environment and still sustain growth. That we are now altering the entire planet is clear. Does it matter? The “Sixth Extinction” by Elizbeth Kolbert, plus our currently changing climate, suggests we may be reducing the ability of the planet to sustain the population we now have. Many studies suggest that we have already grown well beyond the ultimate carry capacity. Perhaps the sustainable population is only half the number living on the planet today.

(Article 1st Published December 2014)


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Are There Limits to Population Growth?

Sustaining Earth's Growing Population

Is our Earth overpopulated?

Perhaps the earth’s sustainable population is only half the number living on the planet today.

By Dr. John J. Hidore

December 30, 2014—The human population has been growing since the origin of the species homo, more than three million years ago. Modern humans developed about 200,000 years ago. The size of the population has increased during this long time span. Although it has not grown at a steady rate, the number of inhabitants of our planet has been rising. In the last century, it has increased at a faster rate than anytime during this span.

Increasing Beyond Available Resources

In 1798, Thomas Robert Malthius, a British economist, wrote about the principle of population growth. He concluded that humans would increase in number beyond the available resources to sustain them, and when this stage was reached the population would begin to decline. Disease, famine and war would reduce the population to a size our planet could support.

The basis of his conclusion? There is a limit to food, and other natural resources that are necessary to sustain the human population. This limit has become known as the carrying capacity. The carrying capacity is the upper limit of a given population which can be sustained without damage to the environment. The ultimate limit to the carrying capacity on our planet depends on photosynthesis. Photosynthesis is the ability of green plants, algae, and bacteria to convert solar energy to living organic matter.

The Need to Limit Growth

In 1968, a Stanford University biologist, Paul Ehrlich, authored a book entitled “The Population Bomb”. He illustrated the dangers of the rapidly growing population. At this time, the Earth’s population was approximately 3.5 billion. In 1972, the results of the first simulation model of the global economic system were published. The study was produced by a Futures group, known as the Club of Rome, formed from world industrial leadership by Aurio Peccei and Alexamder King. The study was titled “Limits to Growth” (Meadows, Meadows, Randers, and Behrens, 1972).

There was global response to this report. By some, it was taken as a projection of doom for the earth, as we know it, by the year 2100. The report showed what the future would hold if we did not interfere with present trends. The study supported the original findings of Malthus.

In spite of many attacks on “Limits to Growth”, the thesis of the book persists. No one can dispel the basic forecast presented. There is too much evidence that the prediction may eventually come true. Coupled with this is a growing, and perhaps fully warranted, fear that the human population is setting in motion forces of a scale of space and time that we can no longer control.

Population and Consumption

Will Earth’s resources support our growing population?

Carrying Capacity of the Earth

Based on this premise, the carrying capacity of Earth has limits for the human species. Studies have indicated that we may have passed the carrying capacity in the late 20th Century. While it is not possible to say exactly when this occurred, one estimate placed it in 1986. What is implied in this conclusion, is that we began consuming more than plant growth can sustain, and so environmental degradation is taking place. This degradation is now almost universal on the planet. It varies in form from place to place and varies in degree, but it is there. One study determined that we are now exceeding the carrying capacity by as much as twenty percent.

There Are No Limits To Growth

There was considerable opposition to the idea of limits to population growth. First and foremost is that the population has grown to over seven billion and continues to grow. A basic criticism of the projection of a limit of growth has been that the studies did not take into consideration the growth of technology. We are no longer dependent on the natural resources for food, clothing and shelter that were available in the past. Human intelligence has been creating new resources that allow the population to grow. Proponents of economic development insist that we will be able to create new resources to support unlimited growth in the future. At the current time, projections are being made for our population to grow between nine and twenty billion. These large numbers are certainly possible but only with increased poverty and need by the majority of these billions. This year, it is estimated that one billion of ou existing population will suffer some stage of malnutrition, and approximately a billion will not have fresh drinking water.

The Options

The important question we need to ask: What quality of life do we want for the majority of the earth’s population, and how much can we alter the natural environment and still sustain growth. That we are now altering the entire planet is clear. Does it matter? The “Sixth Extinction” by Elizbeth Kolbert, plus our currently changing climate, suggests we may be reducing the ability of the planet to sustain the population we now have. Many studies suggest that we have already grown well beyond the ultimate carry capacity. Perhaps the sustainable population is only half the number living on the planet today.


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Making a Difference in Carbon Dioxide Emissions

Megacities and CO2

Megacities are currently in action to reduce greenhouse gases

Many people are aware of the problems ahead, leading efforts to make a difference in emissions due to burning coal.

By Dr. John J. Hidore

December 18, 2015—Coal is the dirtiest and least expensive of the fossil fuels. Burning coal emits soot, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. As a result, coal causes more illness and fatalities than other fossil fuels. The consumption of coal increased 54% in the years from 2000 to 2011. In this 10 year period, China’s coal consumption went up by about 1½ times, oil consumption doubled, and natural gas by 3 times the previous amount. China now burns almost half of all coal consumed each year. In the same time period, India’s coal consumption has more than doubled, oil consumption increase by half and natural gas by 131%. In the summer of 2012, a coal dependent power grid collapsed producing a blackout that affected 640 million people.

Leading Efforts to Make a Difference

It is clear that world consumption of coal as an energy source is increasing in many nations. However, many people are aware of the problems ahead, leading efforts to make a difference in greenhouse gas emissions. One such effort was led by the mayor of London, England. In 2005, the mayor invited representatives of 18 of the world’s largest cities to meet and discuss the need for large cities to take action in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Soon after, with the help of the Clinton Climate Initiative, the group grew to 40. The merger of two groups in 2012 led to the formation of what was designated as the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group.

C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group

There are three levels of membership in this group. The original and core section is that of megacities. Megacities are defined as cities with currently more than three million people or metropolitan areas of over 10 million, either currently or projected by 2025. Cities are also admitted to this class if they are among the top 25 cities in terms of gross domestic product (GDP). The number of megacity members has now grown to more than 60.

There are two other categories of members which allow smaller cities to participate in the program. To date nearly 5000 measurable actions have been initiated that will reduce the emission of greenhouse gases, primarily carbon dioxide. Already existing actions taken by these cities are expected to reduce emissions by 248 million tons by 2020 and by one billion tons by 2030.

The Megacities Carbon Project

Controlling Pollution Over Megacities

The City of Los Angeles: Coal Free by by 2025

The city of Los Angeles is one of the megacity members of the C40 group. As part of their action plan, the city has pledged to become coal free of energy sources by 2025. The mayor and Board of Water and Power Commissioners of Los Angeles have announced a plan to be coal free. The city currently gets 39% of its electrical energy from coal driven power plants, located in Utah and Arizona. The city will end its contract with Arizona in 2015, and will convert the Utah plant to natural gas by 2025. Between 2005 and 2013, Los Angeles increased the amount of energy used from renewable sources from three to twenty percent.

Other Notable Events Related to Reducing Carbon Dioxide Emissions

1. A Nevada coal fired plant was shut down due to activist pressure. In May of 2014, NV Energy announced plans to close its four coal fired power units of the Reid-Gardner Generating Station near Moapa, Nevada. The plant has been a point of contention in Nevada for many years. The Moapa Indians attribute a variety of health problems to this plant. The problems include asthma, heart disease, and lung disease due to coal dust.
2. President Obama, along with the EPA, has placed future limits on coal burning plants.
3. Eleven cities have committed to divest from fossil fuel companies.
4. In 2014, Ontario, Canada announced that it will become the first North American industrial region to eliminate coal power.
5. The World Bank has declared it will sharply restrict funding for new coal-fired power plants in developing countries.
6. The US Import-Export Bank has declined to fund a huge new coal plant in Vietnam on environmental grounds.
7. A bureau of land management lease sale for 149 million tons of coal in the Powder River Valley has failed to attract a single bid.

Many people and organizations have recognized the urgency of climate change and are working to make a difference!


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Our Rapidly Changing World

Our Food Supply may be Rapidly Reduced with Rises in Temperatures.

“There is nothing permanent except change”

Heraclitus , Circa 500 BC

By Dr. John J. Hidore

August 22, 2014—Change through time is a basic attribute of Earth. Earth has been undergoing constant change since it was formed from a cloud of cosmic dust some 4.6 billion years ago. The changes that have taken place and are taking place vary in form, size, duration and areal extent. Days use to be shorter than now; the planet has been both warmer and colder than it is now and the magnetic poles of Earth have changed end for end. Mountain ranges have grown and then eroded away. Ancient seas no longer exist; and biological species have appeared and disappeared. Even the sun which supports life on the planet is not a constant source of energy.

Our Changing Climate

Earth’s climate has changed through time like all else. Throughout most of the history of Earth, the planet was much warmer than it is now. The initial atmosphere contained high concentrations of carbon dioxide and little oxygen. Eventually, the balance between carbon dioxide and oxygen changed to what we have now with much more oxygen. Scattered through time were ages of extreme cold. The earliest ice age took place two billion years ago. The second glaciation took place between 800 and 600 million years ago. This may have been the most extensive glaciation ever to occur on the planet.

Today Our Climate is Changing Faster than at Any Other Time

The global environment is changing now faster than at any time in recent history. What is most significant perhaps is that not only is it changing at a rapid rate but the rate at which it is changing is itself increasing. Simply put the environment in which all living things exist is changing faster and faster. A few examples of current phenomenon will serve to make the point.

Modern humans or Homo Sapien Sapien evolved in Africa some 200,000 years ago. From Africa the species spread out over the planet. It took the modern human species more than a hundred thousand years to reach a total population of one quarter million. We are now adding a quarter million people to the planet each and every day. Each of these added individuals needs food, clothing, and shelter in order to survive. In addition to meeting the needs for survival, they will want many of the amenities of life that are found in the most prosperous countries.

The Rapid Growth of Human Population

Much of the rapid change taking place now is tied to the phenomenal growth of the human population. One of these rapid changes taking place now is the elimination of animal and plant species. There have been times in the past when a large number of species became extinct due to some natural catastrophe. These times are referred to as mass extinctions. Species of plants and animals are now becoming extinct at an extremely high rate. The rate of extinction of species before human development is estimated to have been about one species every ten years. The current rate is at least 100 each year and possibly as high as 1000 each year. Elephants are one species of animal whose numbers are declining rapidly. One hundred thousand elephants were killed in the two years from 2010 to 2012. Satao, the largest known African Elephant was killed by poachers in Kenya near the end of May 2014.

The Monarch Butterfly has Rapidly Reduced in Numbers.

The Rapidly Disappearing Monarch Butterfly

Another example of how fast species are declining is that of the monarch butterfly. Less than two decades ago as many as a billion monarchs migrated to Mexico for the winter. In the fall of 2013, that number dropped to a tiny fraction (1/30) of previous decades. The primary reason for the drop in numbers is the tremendous application of herbicides to agricultural fields. This rapid drop in butterflies is just one of what is now considered to be the sixth mass extinction.

Record Breaking Temperatures

Earth’s climate is being altered by the human species. The planet is warming up due to human activity. The highest average atmospheric temperatures ever recorded for the months of May and June occurred in 2014. The heating is having a profound impact on almost all parts of the environment including the world ocean.

What the outcome of these rapid changes for the human population and other living species is not known. An even cursory look at what is happening on the planet in 2014 suggests that some drastic changes in the behavior of the human population need to take place now.

The only question is whether the people understand and will demand the changes.


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Climate Change and the Global Food Supply

Some species may become extinct

The growing ranges of our food supply will change as the temperatures rise.

“When climate change is added to population growth, only the extent of future food shortage is unknown.”

By Dr.John J. Hidore

August 3, 2014—In the early 21st Century global food production is able to meet the global demand. However, the availability of food varies greatly from place to place. Approximately 870 million people living on Earth today are facing food shortages. These shortages result in nearly 15% of the population being malnourished to some extent, with many facing health problems. In Africa, a third or more children under the age of five undergo growth stunting due to malnutrition. The most extreme health problem is, of course, starvation. It is clear that food production is not keeping up with demand regionally, if not globally.

The Impact of Temperature Changes

Changes in climate are now having a major impact on food production, and certainly will have in the future. The biggest factor in climate change is the rapid rise in global temperatures. For instance, the mean temperature for May and June of 2014 were globally the highest on record. Nearly every forecast of global temperature increases, issued in recent decades, has been an underestimate of what has actually occurred. Since the 2007, IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) report, the new estimate has placed the range of temperature increase as much as 14 degrees F (8°C) by 2100. This increase in temperature will greatly affect life on our planet, including agricultural production.

A food shortage is presently effecting a large portion of the earth's present population.

This may be a rare picture at the supermarket in years to come.

The Decline of Crop Yields

Because most plants evolved during cooler conditions associated with the ice ages, many plants are now growing near the upper limit of their range. Crop yields start to decline when temperatures reach or exceed the optimal temperature range. This is the case in the tropics as well as mid-latitudes. If the temperatures continue to increase, the result will be major changes in the regional growth ranges causing some species to decline in numbers.

Presently, the warmer conditions are now reducing some grass lands to desert conditions, due to greater evaporation and transpiration. It is possible that in the 21st century warming will be sufficient to make many plants extinct. Changes in the plant species growing ranges may become great enough to make some ecosystems non-functional.

Extreme heat waves can devastate crops. In the year 2003 summer temperatures in Europe averaged more than 10°F above normal. In Italy, corn yields dropped 36% below average. In France, yields of fruit fell 25% and wine production fell 10%. Heat also affects the rate of plant pollination. A 3 degree Fahrenheit raise in temperature, in rice producing areas, would cut rice pollination in half. Rising temperatures also increase the frequency and extent of plant diseases and pests.

Water Related Stress of Agriculture

Rising temperatures will, also, result in greater water related stress in agriculture. Agriculture is now the largest user of water on a global basis. Crop production uses some 70 percent of fresh water on a global basis, and about 80 percent in the developing countries. Evaporation rates will increase and, inevitably, less of the global fresh water will be available for irrigation. Over a third of the global human population now lives in water stressed regions. The ratio of population living with water related stress may increase to 50% by 2100.

The transformation of ecosystems will, in all likelihood, result in massive human migrations with the resultant political and economic problems. The possibility of such changes occurring with further warming is very real. Depending on how rapidly warming occurs, the problems will occur sooner than currently anticipated.

Future change

The global population is now growing at a rate of about a quarter million each day. In all likelihood, this growth will continue for some time. Unless food production can increase fast enough to feed the additional growth, the number of people suffering from food shortages will increase. That climate change will take place in coming years, is certain. It should be apparent that it will be impossible to return the planet to the temperature it was in 1900 any time in the near future. When climate change is added to population growth, only the extent of future food shortage is unknown. The impact on food production will vary greatly depending on the degree of the climate change, the geographical extent of the change, and the duration of the change!


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Our Rapidly Changing World

Climate Change and its effects

The effects of Climate Change is happening at a faster then previously recorded.

“There is Nothing Permanent Except Change”
Heraclitus , Circa 500 BC

What the outcome for the human population and other living species is not known. Certainly the decisions being made now will make a huge difference in what the planet is going to be like in coming years–and what the life of our descendants will be become.”

 

By Dr. John J. Hidore

June 7, 2014—Change, through time, is a basic attribute of Earth. Earth has been undergoing constant change since it was formed from a cloud of cosmic dust some 4.6 billion years ago. The changes that have taken place and are taking place today, vary in form, size, duration and extent. Days use to be shorter than now, the planet has been both warmer and colder than it is now and the magnetic poles of Earth have changed end for end. Mountain ranges have grown and then eroded away. Ancient seas no longer exist; and biological species have appeared and disappeared. Even the sun which supports life on the planet is not a constant source of energy.
Earth’s climate has changed through time, like all else. Throughout most of the history of Earth, the planet was much warmer than it is now.

Changes in Planet Earth

The initial atmosphere contained high concentrations of carbon dioxide and little oxygen. Eventually, the balance between carbon dioxide and oxygen changed to what we now have, with much more oxygen. Scattered through time were ages of extreme cold. The earliest ice age took place two billion years ago. The second glaciation took place between 800 and 600 million years ago. This may have been the most extensive glaciation ever to occur on the planet. There have been times when a large number of species became extinct due to some natural catastrophe. These times are often referred to as mass extinctions.

The global environment is changing, now, faster than at any time in recent history. What is most significant perhaps is that not only is it changing at a rapid rate, but the rate at which it is changing is itself increasing. Simply put the environment in which all living things exist is changing faster and faster.

A Growing Population

A few examples of current phenomenon will serve to make the point: Modern humans, or Homo Sapien Sapien, evolved in Africa some 200,000 years ago. From Africa, the species spread out over the planet replacing the Neanderthals. It took the modern human species more than a hundred thousand years to reach a total population of one quarter million. We are now adding that number of people to the planet each and every day. Each of these added individuals needs food, clothing, and shelter in order to survive. In addition to meeting the needs for survival, they will want many of the amenities of life that are found in the most prosperous countries.

Extinction of animals and plants.

The melting ice caps will limit the habitat of polar bears.

Extinction of Plants and Animals

Species of plants and animals are now becoming extinct at an extremely high rate. The rate of extinction is now perhaps as much as a thousand times greater than the rate prior to the origin of humans. The rate of extinction of species, before human development, is estimated to have been about one species every ten years. The current rate is at least 100 each year and possibly as high as 1000 each year. One example of how fast species can decline is that of the monarch butterfly. Less than two decades ago as many as a billion monarchs migrated to Mexico for the winter. In the fall of 2013, that number dropped to a tiny fraction of that –1/30. The primary reason for the drop in numbers is the tremendous application of herbicides to agricultural fields.The rapid drop in butterflies is just one of what is now considered the sixth mass extinction.

Among the major reasons for the high rate of extinction among other species is the changing climate. Temperatures around the world are increasing rapidly. Most of the United States has experienced rapid rise in temperatures in the last 30 years, with the northeastern states of Maine and Vermont warming the most. The arctic is now warmer than it has been in more than 44,000 years. The coldest temperatures ever recorded on the Antarctic Continent have occurred in the past five years.

The “Yet to be Determined” Outcome

An even cursory look at what is happening on the planet in 2014 suggests that some drastic changes in the behavior of the human population needs to take place now. What the outcome for the human population and other living species is not known.

Certainly the decisions being made now will make a huge difference in what the planet is going to be like in coming years–and what the life of our descendants will be become.


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The Demographic Transition

The Population Growth Cycle

With global warming rapidly taking place, can we feed the world’s growing population? (Photo credit: mattlemmon)

By John J. Hidore

While the population is growing in most countries, it is in these less developed countries that the greatest growth on the planet is taking place.With the effects of global warming, feeding the earth’s population will be a future challenge!

November 22, 2013–In the year 2013 the global population is growing at about a quarter million each day. This is a recent trend as through most of human history the population grew very slowly. Humans began as hunters and gatherers and evolved through farmers and herders to the consumer culture of the 21st century. Through this process, life style population growth rates changed following a widely accepted model known as the demographic transition. The model of this shift shows a change from high birth and death rates to low birth and death rates. The model of the demographic transition is based upon events in Europe and involves several stages.

Hunters and Gatherers
In the first stage, humans were hunters and gatherers–until fairly recently on the earth’s timeline. Their food supply was subject to the whims of weather and other elements. Birth rates and death rates were high and varied widely. The annual rate of growth was close to zero. However, as new tools were created that increased the food supply, the population grew slowly, but at an increasing rate. About 10,000 years ago humans changed from being hunters and gatherers to farmers and herders. Once the agricultural revolution got underway, the rate of technological development began to increase steadily. Agriculture gave people control over their food supply, as did the domestication of animals. The increasing technology greatly increased the food supply and consequently the growth rate. Around 1650 the human population reached the 500 million mark.

The Industrial Revolution And Population Growth
The second stage of the demographic transition began with the onset of the industrial revolution. The Industrial Revolution began in what is now Britain, in the period from 1783 to 1812. The industrial revolution resulted in significantly lengthening the average life span, increasing the rate of population growth. The impact of the industrial revolution on the global population was phenomenal! It had taken hundreds of thousands of years for the population to reach 500 million. It took less than 200 years to add the next 500 million.

During this second stage, death rates fell rapidly due to better food and advances in medicine and public health. In much of Western Europe, the death rate dropped sharply, but the birth rate stayed high. This greatly increased the rate of growth from approximately 0.1 percent per year in 1750 to about 1.4 percent by the third quarter of the 1800’s. The growth rate in these countries exploded and the rate of population growth increased rapidly, greatly increasing the earth’s total population. The growth rate in European countries and their colonies was far greater than in the rest of the world at this time.

Increasing Life Span
The third stage of growth occurred when the birth rate dropped, while the death rate continued to decline, but slower than before. By the last quarter of the 1800’s, the birth rate in Europe began to decline, thus slowing the growth rate. The exact reasons for the drop in the birth rate is not known. In this third stage, the birth and death rates were low, with the birth rate only slightly higher than the death rate. Once again, the difference between the birth and death rate was small, both at much lower levels than in the first stage. The drop in death rates resulted in the average human life-span increasing from about 30 to more than 70 years. Each country went through the demographic transition at a different time and rate. By 1930 the industrialized countries of Europe had passed through the transition and reached the final stage of low growth rates. Those countries which have joined the industrial nations since 1930 have also gone through the demographic transition. Since 1900, growth rates in the industrialized countries have averaged between 0.25 and l.0 percent. The stages merge from one to the next,  but do not take place everywhere at the same time.
Population Growth Rate of Undeveloped Countries
Most of the nearly 200 nations existing today have not reached the third phase. Many less developed countries have not changed to an industry based economy. These countries are largely still agricultural. They have remained in the second stage, which is one of high birth rates and declining death rates. Where basic health improvement measures have been put in place, the death rate has dropped substantially. The large gap means a high growth rate. The global average growth rate in 2011 was some 1.2%. The CIA Fact book estimates the growth rate in Zimbabwe at 4.38% and that of Libya at 4.85%. This is in comparison to the United Kingdom at 0.55% and the United States at 0.9% While the population is growing in most countries, it is in these less developed countries that the greatest growth on the planet is taking place.

The highest growth rates are occurring in nations that are already in danger of becoming failed states. In many of these nations the ruling elite have little desire to support family planning, making the economic and social problems worse. Birth rates could drop substantially and rapidly, stabilizing the global population at 0%, but this seems highly unlikely in the near future. With the effects of global warming, feeding the earth’s population will be a future challenge!

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Global Population Growth

World population

The Impact of Population Growth

By John J. Hidore

Estimates of Early Population Growth

October 19, 2013—Global population is growing faster than at any time in history. We are now adding about 227,000 people per day to the planet. This adds 85,000,000 people to the planet each year. That annual increase is the same as adding the population of the United States to the planet every four years. What is astonishing in the growth data is how fast the rate of growth has been increasing. It took hundreds of thousands of years for the first billion to be reached in about 1800. The time it has taken for adding each billion has dropped rapidly. The last billion was added in just 12 years from 1999 to 2011. At the beginning of 2013 global population growth stood at a little over seven billion. The key element in driving population growth is changing technology which has increased the global food supply.

Some estimates of early human population size:
125,000                1 million years ago
1-5 million            11,000 B.C
50 million                3,000 B.C
0.5 billion                1,500 A.D.

Adding the billions:
1 billion    1800    200,000 to a million years
2 billion     1930   130 years
3 billion     1960     30 years
4 billion     1974     14 years
5 billion     1987     13 years
6 billion     1999      12 years
7 Billion     2011      12 years
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The human population reached its highest annual growth rate of about 2 percent per year, in the early 1970’s. The growth rate in 2012 was around 1.2 %. While the rate has dropped the absolute number of humans added to the planet each year continues to be greater than in the past.

Population Growth in Asia

Today the fastest-growing countries are the developing countries. Many of the nations with the highest growth rates are in Africa and southwest Asia. China has the largest population of any country. However, India, which has a smaller population than China but has a higher growth rate, is adding 1/3 more people each year than is China. The UN projects India to surpass China as the most populous country in the world about 2028. At that time both countries will have a population of about 1.45 billion. China’s population will begin to stabilize in 2028 and India will continue to grow for some time. Most of the growth will be in developing countries, with more than half in Africa. The population in Sub-Saharan Africa is projected to double from the 2010 population of 0.86 to 1.96 billion in 2050.

Impact Of Population Growth

The key element in the future relationship between the human species and the global environment is the continued rapid growth of the human population. In 1968, Stanford biologist Paul Ehrlich published the book The Population Bomb. At the time he wrote the book the human population was 3.5 billion. It has more than doubled since.
All data indications are that the population will continue to grow. How much it will grow can only be estimated and the estimates from different organizations vary. This year, 2013, the United Nations has forecasted a global population growth of 8.1 billion by 2025 and 9.6 billion for 2050.
The next billion people added to the earth will want and expect food, clothing, shelter, and some means of employment. How are these needs to be met? There are already a billion people with some degree of malnutrition. Most of the population supports themselves from agriculture. All good, and even marginal, land is already occupied, and much productive land is being removed from agriculture due to erosion and general depletion. How are these agriculturalists going to find employment? These are critical issues!
The momentum for an increasing population seems to be difficult to change. Global business thrives on population growth. It seems the options are limited. Either the human species understands what is taking place and mandates a change, or these trends will continue until some unpredictable catastrophe eliminates a substantial portion of the people now living!

Recent reports:
United Nations. 2013. World Population Prospects